Three people were shot dead and dozens injured Saturday as a new round in Egypt's legislative elections opened with clashes between police and Islamists, witnesses said.
Some of the most severe clashes took place near the northern city of Damietta, where police tried to block villagers supporting Islamist candidates from heading to the polls, witnesses said.
Angry residents started throwing stones at the police, who responded with guns and teargas.
Hani Noaman al-Sayyuhi, 16, died after being shot by police, hospital sources said.
In the suburbs of Tanta, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Cairo, two supporters of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) were also killed by police bullets.
The two victims, identified as Mohamed Abu Abbeya and Mohamed Hellah, were by a voting booth when violent clashes broke out between police and Islamists.
At least several dozen others were injured in clashes throughout the Delta region, including 22 people hit by bullets, and were hospitalized in Tanta.
A fourth person was reported dead after suffering a heart attack during the clashes.
Islamists alleged that police were trying to stop voters from casting ballots for them and had arrested several activists from the Muslim Brotherhood, a banned but largely tolerated Islamist movement.
In Zagazig, northeast of the capital, witnesses said police arrested 10 women wearing the traditional Islamic veil who were suspected of voting for the Islamists. There was no official reaction to the report.
Residents of Abu Kbir supporting Islamist candidate Sayyed Abdel Meguid told AFP they were too frightened to go to the polls because police have stepped up arrests in recent days.
"This is a new method used by the security services to falsify the elections, as with the presence of a judge in each voting station they can no longer stuff the ballot boxes like they did in the past," said a Muslim Brotherhood official who requested anonymity.
Egypt's constitutional court ruled before the election that judiciary officials needed to be present at all polling stations to assure the vote's fairness.
But a witness in Dakahla, near Damietta, said the magistrates often seemed helpless faced with the police action.
"The magistrate who was at the voting station himself got on the phone with the governor of Damietta and the director of security forces to protest against the ban on some people voting, but to no avail," said Ezz Eddin Ibrahim Mohamed, the former principal of a girls school being used as a polling booth.
Mohamed said a crowd spontaneously surrounded the voting booth and chanted "Allahu Akbar," or "God is Greatest," and was dispersed by police firing rubber bullets and tear-gas.
Some 116 seats were up for grabs in Saturday's voting, a runoff in the second of three phases of elections.
The second round started last Sunday, when all but 18 seats were thrown into a runoff. Ten of Sunday's winners were members of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), while the other eight winners were independents who have not declared their affiliations.
Many independent candidates who won seats in the first round of elections declared themselves members of the NDP after results were announced.
Some 148 seats were up in the first round of elections, which began October 18. The NDP won 118 seats, while 15 seats went to opposition candidates, seven of them Islamists.
The third and final phase of elections for the 454-member parliament -- DAMIETTA, Egypt (AFP)
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